Water stress is on the rise - with cascading consequences worldwide

Scott Odell, Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) principal investigator and 2022 Seed Grant recipient, speaks about water conflicts as they relate to mining communities in Chile, the topic of his research with fellow Seed Grant recipient and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Environmental Solutions Initiative, John Fernández.


In the spring of 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, was counting down the days until its taps ran dry. After years of unprecedented drought, reservoirs were nearly empty, and residents were forced to line up at water collection sites.

The city of more than 4 million people ultimately averted a crisis, due in part to limits on water use, public service campaigns and a little luck. But the respite won’t last forever.

Known as Day Zero, Cape Town’s water crisis was made five to six times more likely by climate change, a 2020 study concluded. And as the world warms, the threat to water supplies across entire regions is increasing.